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The Lesson to Learning Life's Lessons...

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Life's lessons cannot be learned in a minute, an hour or even a lifetime. Do not despair, a sufficient number of life's lessons can be learned if one brings awareness to his/her actions, interactions, adventures and misadventures.

This morning's sequences of actions and misadventures gave birth to quite a few of life's lessons...

Pappy, Sweetie and Buddy, the 3 dogs my sister rescued, live at my brother's house. Certainly not by choice, it seems my brother has gotten into the kennel business these days due in part to the size and the convenient location of his large, fenced-in back yard. I recently moved back to Nashville and reside here as well with my dog Abigail. She is the inside dog. So, this morning's life lessons began with the thought of cleaning out my car from my recent beach trip. I had a camping chair in the backseat of my car that had to be removed. With my beach chair over one shoulder and my gym bag over the other, I started down the driveway toward the gated fence. Just yesterday, I came through the back gate carrying only my small computer bag and there was just enough space for little Houdini, aka Pappy, to slide by my legs and take off like a little muscly, black rocket bolting across the manicured front lawn, rows of monkey grass, around the large shrubs that frame either side of the driveway and out of sight. Even with this recent experience, I mindlessly entered the gate toting as much as I could, for efficiency's-sake. Needless to say, an escape artist made his way around my feet. Surprised that it was the caramel colored rescue Buddy and not Pappy, I turned around; at which point all three dogs made a break for it. I hurried in the back door and up the stairs, grabbed the leashes and headed out the front door while I thought, "Gees, it would've been so much easier to come through the front door.... Do I take my car like Phil did yesterday when Pappy escaped? Nah, I don't want to get dog smell in my car." After making my way down the street on foot, I realized why my amazing, Eagle Scout stepbrother took his truck. Dogs are quicker than humans, at least those dogs and this human! I returned to the house for my car and prayed the dogs did no get out of sight before I could catch up with them. Or worse, make their way to the main roads. I caught up with them and the games began.

I would get out of the car and edge closer to the dogs while calling for them, being mindful not to shut the door all of the way in case the doors decided to automatically lock and leave my running car locked in the middle of the street with the extra set of keys in the center console. (Lesson 1: Do not keep extra set of keys in your car.) I was able to get little Houdini on the first round and coaxed him to hop into the backseat of my car. I then attempted to catch the other two creatures and they bolted once I was within arm's length. I quickly hopped back in the car and made my way to the end of the block. We were now only two blocks from a main road. Feeling a mild anxiety growing, my mind started to race, "Would I ever be able to catch these dogs?" At the time, I couldn't remember their names, so I couldn't call for them with anything other than a sweet voice and terms of endearment.

As they approached the end of the street, I felt my anxiety grow. I drove down to the end of the street and parked horizontally to produce a mental barrier for the dogs. It seemed to work, they turned around and started heading the other way. They made there way down the block at which point I returned to the car and removed it from blocking the path of any mid-morning drivers. Pappy sat in the backseat awaiting the reunion with his friends who he could undoubtedly hear frolicking in the streets. Success! Hearing the whines of his caged friend, the furry black dog that looks like a small grizzly bear approached the front passenger door. Throwing my vehicle into park, I leaned over to open the front door. She jumped into the car and I pulled the door shut. She then climbed over the middle console, pulling with her front paws, clicking her nails and kicking her back paws as she struggled to gain traction to join her friend in the back seat. All I could think was "Oh gees, my leather."

Returning my focus to the task at hand, I slowly edged down the street. An idea popped into my head, "I could use one of these dogs to coax Buddy into the car. I put the car in park, grabbed a leash and took the tiny grizzly from the back seat. As I shut the door, Sweetie was tugging on her leash. The tugging stopped and I realized I had a leash connected to a collar minus a small grizzly bear. Sweetie trotted back to meet her friend and I watched as the two escapees happily cantered away.

Ever the optimist, I decided to herd the dogs like sheep. I skillfully maneuvered my compact car, driving the escape artists around the corner and down my brother's street. It worked! As they caught sight of the house, they darted towards the back fence. Momentarily leaving the 3rd dog in the car, I quickly opened the gate and let the dogs in. I returned to the car and grabbed Pappy, returned him to his friends and chuckled about my inefficient morning as I climbed the back stairs and entered the cool house. All's well, ends well.

Not so fast, the fiasco continued. "Ahhhhh!!!" I scream as the black bullet, Pappy, darts past my feet into the house. "What the ...???" Startled and offended by the encroachment of her territory, my Baby Sprockets, Queen of Mommy's Frontier (aka Abigail, my 12 year old, 12 lb Pekingese), begins to ferociously bark, as ferociously as a dog with a mouth the size of a walnut can. I know my protective little dog[1] and I knew this was not going anywhere good. She then began to snap at the feet of this dog that is three times her size. The growl in Pappy's bark grew as he began to fight back. I firmly pushed Abigail out of harm's way as she slid across the wooden floors and came to rest abruptly and rather forcefully against the piano bench. I grabbed Pappy by the collar and guided her out of the house and out the back door. When I returned to the room where the fight took place, Abigail was still crouched up in the spot where she came to rest with a look of a bruised ego in her eyes. I scooped her up and we cuddled while I reminisced on the morning. (Lesson 2: Sometimes it is necessary to push those away that we love in order to keep them from harm. They often do not understand at the time, but time and love heals most things.) After a few minutes of cuddling, Abigail was ready to play!

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Recap of Life's Lessons Learned Today:

1. Do not keep your extra set of keys in the car.

2. Sometimes it is necessary to push those away that we love in order to keep them from harm.

3. Overarching Theme: Awareness/Mindfulness -- If we take the time to slow down just a little and encourage ourselves to be present in our actions and thoughts, we can be more efficient and effective.

[1] Pekingese get their name from the ancient city of Peking, now called Beijing. Pekingese were held sacred in ancient China and could only be owned by royalty. At that time, the punishment for stealing a Pekingese was death. Pekingese came to Europe as a result of war. When the British overtook the Chinese Imperial Palace in 1860, they returned home with several of the dogs. Pekingese are fiercely loyal and protective of their owners.